The Turlock American Little League 12-year-old All Stars had an inspiring run this season, which culminated in the team finishing with a 4th place ranking in all of Northern California.
“There was a strong desire after the year everyone had with COVID,” said Coach Courtney Keyler.
“The kids practiced with a good mindset that showed on the field all the way through State,” said Coach John Arellano.
The TALL 12s started their 2021 run by sweeping through District competition at Soderquist Field in Turlock. They started with a 9-3 victory over Mariposa on July 6. Braydon Keyler had a standout performance with four hits, including a homerun. Keyler also pitched three innings with no hits and had eight strikeouts. Mason Hackler had three hits against Mariposa and Tanner Linhares had two.
The TALL 12s faced Los Banos on July 8, a team Coach Keyler said was “the best opponent we faced in District or Sections.” Turlock pulled off the 5-3 win. Brock Arellano had two big hits in that game, Mason Hackler also had two hits. Cam Kelly and Aidan de Los Santos each had 2 RBI’s. Braydon Keyler had six strikeouts in 2.2 innings pitched.
The District 73 championship game pitted TALL against Atwater on July 10.
“It was quite a display of offense for our team,” said Coach Keyler.
The TALL finished with 20 runs scored to Atwater’s one. In two innings pitched, Cameron Henard had five strikeouts. Henard also notched two hits. De Los Santos had four hits; Keyler had three hits and a home run and Hackler and Linhares each notched two hits.
The TALL 12s travelled to Ione for the Section 6 tournament.
The Turlock team started with a bang, shutting out Manteca 17-0 on July 17. Pitchers Henard, de Los Santos and Keyler combined for the no hitter. Keyler had two homeruns in that game. Hackler had four hits, including one homerun and both Kohen Fisher and de Los Santos notched three hits.
TALL 12s had another no-hitter in their game against Tyler Hoover on July 18. Pitchers Hackler, Kelly and de Los Santos combined for the 16-0 shutout. This was especially rewarding, according to Coach Keyler because the TALL pitchers had to work with Coach Arellano on how to face a left-handed batter, a first for the Turlock 12s.
Hackler had four hits with 6 RBI’s and 2 homeruns against Tyler Hoover. Keyler had three hits with one homerun and 5 RBI’s. Michael Cardoso and de Los Santos each had two hits.
The TALL 12s became Section 6 champions when they defeated Manteca in a 15-4 win on July 20.
In the Section championship, Henard had four strikeouts in 2 innings pitched, along with three hits. Kelly pitched 1.2 innings and had three strikeouts. Jay Araujo added three hits, and Linhares had two. Hackler, de Los Santos and Keyler were each 2 for 2.
The TALL 12s found out what they were made of in their first game of the State Tourney, held in Rocklin, on July 24.
The Turlock players pulled out a 12-11 victory over McKinleyville in eight innings, but only by the strength of their character, according to Coach Keyler.
“What the boys experienced during this game is something they will remember the rest of their lives,” he said.
The back-and-forth contest saw Turlock pull off four comebacks. In the 8th inning there were five consecutive base runners after two outs. Braiden Fuentes hit the walk off single to win the game.
“It was an amazing, exhilarating, exhausting win for our team,” said Coach Keyler of the three- and half-hour contest that was played in 105-degree temperatures.
McKinleyville threw 209 pitches during the game, unheard of in this level of play, according to Keyler.
In that epic win, Hacker had five hits and de Los Santos and Henard had three hits each.
The win against McKinleyville took its toll, however, as the TALL 12s saw their first loss to North Natomas, 2-4, on July 25, followed by a 3-13 loss to San Mateo American on July 26.
“Unfortunately, that’s the way baseball is sometimes. It’s a game of errors,” said Coach Keyler.
“It was an amazing year, we finished 4th out of 370 Northern California Little League teams,” he continued.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them play at the high school level,” said Coach Arellano.